Summary Of The School Days Of Indian Girl By Zitkala-Sa

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Zitkala-Sa’s autobiography informs her readers of the damaging and traumatizing effects of assimilation by utilizing her life experiences as a narrative, demonstrating how living under an oppressive and dominant culture was an internal struggle between society's expectations and her own cultural identity. Sa’s experience is especially unique considering her mixed heritage as well.
Zitkala-Sa’s The School Days of an Indian Girl is an autobiography that was published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1901. The autobiography in detail describes her experience in her community, the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota as a child and later her journey ravelling with European-American missionaries to attend a Quaker Missionary School that teaches speaking, reading and writing in English. Upon her arrival at the missionary led school, Sa felt ostracized, fearful, and terrified of every little adjustment or ordeal that appeared to be foreign or unknown to her based upon her cultural identity and heritage. Her trauma often led to many nights where she would sob and cry herself to sleep. Her daunting experiences of having her heritage ripped away ensued when Sa caught word that her “long and heavy” hair was to be cut (314). From the teachings from her Mother, Sa understood that “only the unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy” (314). She cried and shook her head with anguish but as her thick braids were cut she then “lost her spirit” (315).

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